The election is over and now military families are left wondering: what next? Unless you have a crystal ball or are in the position of making DoD budget decisions, most of us don’t know what the next few months or years will bring to the financial doorsteps of our military families. Instead of just worrying about whether or not your family’s bottom line will shrink, you need to start planning for how you position yourself to absorb any negative changes by learning to live leaner.
How do you start to do this?
By educating yourself on how to make the best decisions for your mobile family when it comes to the biggest purchases your family makes. This will set your family up to absorb any financial heartache that may come your way. The truth is that our mobile, military lifestyle complicates our lives. We don’t live by the same rules as civilian families. It is important that you learn how your military lifestyle impacts how you should spend your money.
Are you thinking about buying a car? Too many times our families are lured into a dealership by a “military sale” or promises of financing instead of arriving with a need for a car and the knowledge of what the best deal is for them. If you buy a car that doesn’t fit your current and future needs, you are going to lose money big time. Buying before a deployment may mean repair bills when you came home because it sat too long. Getting a convertible right before you get orders may mean selling it when you find out you’re headed to Alaska. Learning that you won’t get post housing a week after you arrive at a new station means you have to drive your brand new behemoth SUV thirty miles and it is going to cost your family a big part of their budget.
By considering your mobile military lifestyle you’ll think about how to diminish how a deployment or move can cost you and actually figure out how to save some money. For instance, if your servicemember is due to deploy, you may want to go down to one vehicle while he is gone. Or maybe you can wait to buy until he’s deployed and take advantage of programs that allow your servicemember to buy a car, like the Exchange New Car Sales program. Moving soon? Might want to hold up on buying a car until you get to your new home. After a few months, you’ll know how you’re going to use your car and be better positioned to pick the best car for your situation and know if you can downsize altogether.
From a car to a home to furniture or a pet, by making sure your decisions stand up to your mobile military lifestyle, you’ll be positioning yourself to handle any change that comes your way. Don’t fall victim to thinking like a civilian when making a big purchase. Start cutting your own budget now so if change comes, you have money saved, a house that can be sold, a car that is affordable, and furniture that moves with you. Start building your financial resiliency today.
Want to learn more on how to do this? Check out my book, The Thinking Spouse’s Guide to Military Life: How to make better buying decisions for your mobile family, where I talk about homes, vehicles, home furnishings, pets, and more! Available on Kindle or Nook. Don’t have an ereader? Get a free reading ap to read the book on your computer, tablet or phone in less than 5 minutes. Check out what other military spouse’s have to say about the book on my web site. By considering your larger purchases in light of your military lifestyle, you’ll be able to roll with change rather than losing money at every turn.
As a military spouse of thirteen years, mom of three, and freelance journalist, Janine Boldrin is uniquely qualified to write about the issues facing mobile military families. Her solution based articles on home and car buying, decorating, parenting, and pets have appeared in over 50 magazines. She is a regular contributor to AmeriForce’s Finance Guide, Military Spouse magazine, Military Families Magazine, and The Huffington Post on military life.